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Midterm

Harris Midterm One Definitions & Terms


Department
Anthropology
Course Code
ANTH 1150
Professor
Satsuki Kawano
Study Guide
Midterm

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Cultural Anthropology by M. Harris
Definitions and Terms: Midterm 1
Chapter 1
The five fields of anthropology:
Cultural anthropology- deals with the description and analysis of cultures-the socially learned
traditions of past and present ages
Archaeology- possesses similar goals to cultural anthropology but they differ in the methods they
use and the cultures they study. Archaeology examines the material remains of past cultures left
behind on or below the surface of the earth
Anthropological linguistics-the study of the great variety of languages spoken by human beings.
Anthropological linguists attempt to trace the history of all known families of languages
Physical anthropology-connects the other anthropological fields to the study of animal origins
and the biologically determined nature of Homo sapiens
Applied anthropology-uses the findings of cultural, archaeological, linguistic, and biological
studies to solve practical problems affecting the health, education, security, and prosperity of
human beings in many cultural settings
Holism- the distinction of anthropology among the social sciences is that it is holistic; it tries to
understand the processes that influence and explain all aspects of human thought and
behavior. It is an approach that assumes that any single aspect of culture is integrated with other
aspects, so that no single dimension of culture can be understood in isolation
Fieldwork- refers to firsthand experience with the people being studied. It involves integration
into a community through long-term residence and knowledge of the local language and customs
while maintaining the role of observer
Field notes- the data collected by anthropologists. Includes journals, daily logs, diaries,
interviews, behavioral observations, and transcriptions of audiotapes
Interviews- rely entirely on research subjects as sources of knowledge
Participant observation- places the ethnographer as the scene where a combination of direct
observation and interviewing provides the evidence from which ethnographic accounts are
constructed
Culture shock- is the feeling of anxiety and disorientation that develops in an unfamiliar situation
when there is confusion about how to behave or what to expect
Informants- are people through whom the anthropologist learns about the culture through
observation and by asking questions
Ethnography- is a firsthand description of a living culture based on personal observation
Ecological anthropology- considers the interaction between environment and technology to study
human adaptation and behavior

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economic anthropology- studies how goods and services are distributed through formal and
informal institutions
political anthropology- focuses on political integration, stratification, methods of conflict
resolution, leadership and social control
medical anthropology- studies biological and sociocultural factors that affect health and illness
psychological anthropology- concerned with how culture affects personality, child rearing,
emotions, attitudes and social behavior
ethnology- is a study of a particular topic or problem in more than one culture, using a
comparative perspective. Anthropologists use the comparative method to understand patterns of
thought or behavior that occur in a number of societies
Chapter 2
Culture- refers to the learned, socially acquired traditions of thought and behavior found in
human societies. It is a socially acquired lifestyle that includes patterned, repetitive ways of
thinking, feeling and acting
subculture- members of a subculture share certain cultural features that are significantly
different from those of the rest of society
enculturation- a partially conscious and partially unconscious learning experience whereby the
older generation invites, induces, and compels the younger generation to adopt traditional ways
of thinking and behaving. It can account for the continuity of culture- but not the evolution of
culture
ethnocentrism- the belief that ones own patterns of behavior are always natural, good, beautiful,
or important and that strangers, to the extent that they live differently, live by savage, inhuman,
disgusting or irrational standards
cultural relativism- stipulates that behavior in a particular culture should not be judged by the
standards of another. Yet it is evident that not all human customs or institutions contribute to the
societies overall health and well being, nor should they be regarded as morally or ethically worthy
of respect
falsification- entails the rejection of a theory because the prediction is not supported by the data
diffusion- refers to the passing of cultural beliefs from one culture and society to another.
Resistance to diffusion is as common as acceptance. Diffusion cannot account for many instances
in which people who never had any contact with each other invented similar tools and techniques
and developed remarkably similar forms or marriage and religious beliefs
emics- knowledge represents views of thoughts and behavior from the perspective of the
participants. The members of the culture being studied regard Emic descriptions as meaningful
and appropriate. Knowledge may not be applicable for generating scientific theories. Knowledge
achieves the status of emic by passing the test of native consensus. Emic descriptions describe
what is culturally meaningful, rather than what is theoretically significant
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etics- knowledge represents views of thoughts and behaviors from the perspective of the
observer/researcher. Accounts and descriptions are expressed in terms of categories that are
regarded as meaningful and appropriate by the community of scientific observers. Knowledge is
obtained through direct observation of elicitation or through participants being trained to be
observers. Knowledge must be applicable for generating theories of cross-cultural differences and
similarities. Descriptions do not have to be meaningful or appropriate to native informants to be
deemed valid
the universal pattern- is a set of categories that is comprehensive enough to afford logical and
classificatory organization for a range of traits and institutions that can be observed in all cultural
systems
infrastructure- consists of the technologies and productive and reproductive activities that bear
directly on the provision of food and shelter, protection against illness, and the satisfaction of
sexual and other basic human needs and drives
structure- consists of the groups and organizations present in every society that allocate,
regulate, and exchange goods, labor, and information. The primary focus of some groups is on
kinship and family relations; others provide the political and economic organization for the whole
society; still others provide the organization for religious rituals and various intellectual activities
superstructure- consists of the behavior and thought devoted to symbolic, ideational, artistic,
playful religious, and intellectual endeavors as well as all the mental and emic aspects of a
culture’s infrastructure and structure
cultural materialism- is a research strategy that holds that the primary task of cultural
anthropology is to give scientific causal explanations for the differences and similarities in
thought and behavior found among human groups
Evolutionism (Nineteenth-century evolutionism)- cultures were usually regarded as moving
through various stages of development according to different levels of rational knowledge, ending
up with something resembling the Euro-American style
Lewis Henry Morgan (evolutionism)- Morgan divided the evolution of culture into three main
stages: savagery, barbarism, and civilization. These stages had figured in evolutionary schemes as
early as the sixteenth century, but Morgan subdivided them and filled them out in greater detail
and with greater reference to ethnographic evidence than had anyone else
Historical Particularism- According to Franz Boas, nineteenth century attempts to discover the
laws of cultural evolution an the schematize the stages of cultural progress were founded on
insufficient empirical evidence; each culture has its own long and unique history. Another
important aspect is the notion of cultural relativism, which holds that there are no higher or lower
forms of culture
Bronislaw Malinowski (functionalism)- the main task of cultural anthropology is to describe the
recurrent functions of customs and institutions, rather than to explain the origins of cultural
differences and similarities. Once we have understood the function of an institution then we can
understand how cultural beliefs and practices contribute to the smooth functioning of society
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